I woke up early. It was difficult to sleep on the flat, cold hard floor. The light through the curtains made the room look dim and red, but the colour wasn’t warm. It was like everything was a paler shade of blood. I scrambled out of my tangled “bed” as quietly as I could manage to pull them open.

It was a grey day again. The clouds had moved on overhead and been replaced by lighter grey fog. The houses across the street were indiscernible. I could just see to the road across the front garden. The change in brightness woke the others up before I turned around.

Evelyn was straining to keep her eyes open; they kept squinting reflexively. I closed the blinds in apology to keep most of the brightness out while still lighting the room.

“It’s burning me,” she rasped, and her hoarse grating voice shocked me. The virus was doing something to her skin - like those people who could never go out in sunlight. “It hurts, Leia.”

“Um - I - I’m sorry,” I floundered, closing the hated red curtains again and switching on the corner lamp. It made the room feel too hot to have it like this unnecessarily. Evelyn’s voice made her seem like a different person, as well as her chalky lips and blood-matted dark hair, and it made me feel a little scared.

I looked over at Summer, who was sitting up in the chair. Another time I might have found her bedhead and alarmed expression funny, but now there was nothing remotely laughable about it.

I bundled my duvet up and folded it, stashing it down the side of the sofa between it and the wall. Summer handed me her blanket and I did the same with it. Evelyn started to get up, tugging her blood-spotted blanket off, but I pushed her shoulder down in panic.

“No, no, stay there,” I said.

“I want to walk,” she said in her new creepy voice. “My legs feel… wrong.”

“What do you mean?” I said nervously, and I realised I was backing away but hadn’t noticed until the edge of the coffee table bumped into the back of my calves. I tried to squash down the fear that was welling up, seeming to crush my lungs. It was ludicrous - I shouldn’t be afraid of my sister. She needed me now more than ever, not for me to shy away in horror. I swallowed and stepped forwards again to help her up.

She wobbled a little as though her legs were weak, and grabbed my arm tightly to regain her balance. Her nails pierced through my skin as they contracted and I gasped, snatching my arm away.

Evelyn held her hand up - the nails were unusually hard and sharp-looking, as if they had been filed into a pointed-arch shape. What the hell?

“What’s happening to me?” she rasped. “This can’t be just a virus.”

Her head snapped sideways and up, so she was looking at the ceiling, eyes narrowed against the light. The sudden odd movement looked like it belonged in some horror movie.

“What’s that smell?”

I traded a look with Summer, confused. I couldn’t smell anything. Evelyn relaxed again, stretching her arms out and rolling her neck until I could hear the bones pop. I flinched - she was acting really strangely.

She combed her odd nails through her lank hair. The colour had returned to her face and lips.

“I feel better now, though,” she murmured in her croaking voice. “I think I’ll go and have a shower. I need… to purify myself.”

“Er, what?” I said. I felt very dim-witted as though my brain was working too slowly to catch up. It was too slow to process that something definitely was not right.

Evelyn turned and walked into the hall without a word and without looking back at us. We heard her walk up the stairs and the sound of the shower turning on. We stared dumbly across the room.

“This virus is doing something really creepy to Evelyn,” I whispered. I felt like I had to keep my voice low, even though she shouldn’t be able to hear me anyway.

“I know. Do you think we should…?” she gestured to the door uncomfortably. The clothes I had lent to her were rumpled from her sleeping in them.

“I don’t think we should take her with us,” I said slowly. “She said the light hurts her. I’ll go and get us some things and we can… go out. She’ll be better staying at home if she’s sick like this.”

Summer nodded a relieved agreement and sank into her chair again, twisting her hands in her lap as I took the stairs two at a time. When I reached the top Evelyn was walking out of her bedroom with a pile of freshly laundered clothes in her arms.

I smiled hesitantly and edged past her to my bedroom door. I was twisting the handle to push it open when I heard her turn back from the bathroom doorway, dropping her clothes just inside the door.

“I can smell it,” she snarled in her guttural hoarse voice.

I turned around, still keeping my hand on the door, and saw her leaning towards me, her eyes dilating with each inhalation she took. They were fixed not on me, but my arm. I looked down and saw several spots of blood on the sleeve where she had gripped me like a vice earlier.

The End

0 comments about this story Feed